Wednesday, 29 June 2011

SELL OUT! Tips for hand-selling stuff, tip 5

This series includes weekly tips on hand-selling homemade work without losing your soul or compromising your integrity. See the original introductory post here, tip #2 here, tip #3 here, and tip #4 here.

Tip #5: When no one is in your booth, or when you are not directly engaging with a customer, make yourself busy by rearranging product or dusting. If you look bored or like you have nothing to do you send a signal that you (and possibly by extension) your product are boring. Act lively, and you’ll bring out the best in your product (and yourself). You’ll become a magnet and draw people in.

How many times can you dust and rearrange the same stuff, you may ask? Lots of times. Lots and lots of times. If the show is fairly busy, you should never be slinking off to a corner to find something else to do. You should dust and rearrange when there’s a break. Stay available, without looking bored.

If you simply cannot bear to dust and rearrange any more, try doing something active that still allows you to be available. I often choose to sew bindings on my books. This is a bit of tricky advice though, because it shouldn’t be seen as an invitation to disengage in the corner to “demonstrate” your craft (too often an excuse for not actively selling stuff). Instead it should be seen as a way of keeping yourself busy and active, but still available (that’s key). I never think of sewing bindings at craft shows as production time, I think of it as a strategy to not get or look bored. Sometimes a book I could usually sew in 10 minutes takes 2 hours. That’s fine. It’s because I set the book down when I need to. I subtly stand and start rearranging product so I’m more available to chat with customers when they enter my booth.

The long and the short of this tip is this: brainstorm ways you can keep yourself active, but available. This is how you avoid the polar opposites of bad salesmanship: disengaging or hovering. You don’t want to do either. So think about how you can be available, but not in some one’s face, not only when you are engaging with a customer, but also when you aren’t actively engaging with them.

Not to belabor my point, but picture the following artists in their booths, visually. All have one thing in common, no one is currently in their booth shopping:

  • The artist looks bored, whiny or angry, she has a scowl on her face or is commiserating with another artist in the neighboring booth about what a lame show this is.
  • The artist is hiding in a corner, head deeply engaged in a book or something that looks potentially like accounting or homework from the way she’s concentrating, she looks like she could be at the library, for what she’s doing.
  • The artist is standing on the outside of her booth eagerly smiling, hands behind her back in a tight bun (or is she wringing her hands behind her back nervously?). Her eyes look like a puppy’s eyes in a pet store, she seems desperate for someone to acknowledge her work or like she hasn’t had human interaction in months.
  • The artist is just sitting, face expressionless, eyes staring off into the void. Perhaps her arms are folded. 
  • The artist is quietly rearranging product, she smiles when she sees you, but goes back to rearranging product or dusting. Her shoulders are straight and she stands up tall. Her eyes look confident.
Okay, obviously I’m exaggerating somewhat, but only to make my point more clear. Who seems most interesting to you? Who seems most the most available but the least intimidating? Who do you think you’d most likely be able to have an interesting conversation with in the moment? And consider how the body language of each of these artists might rub off onto their work, who’s work do you suspect might be most interesting?

Now, who do you think will be the most likely to sell something?

I’ve been at many craft shows where it seemed dead. Really, hardly anyone was around. But there were 8 people in my booth. I am not a charmer by nature. I am a painfully shy chronic book-worm. But I believe in my work. I felt like it was worth learning how to sell it. And that effort matters.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Book Stands Follow-up #3

I'm revisiting the book stand series today as I just came across a new resource.

Bill Conrad, Jr. and his wife, Jan are the folks behind The Bookstand. They create handmade wooden book stands in Camden, ME.

The design concept is simple - a wedge-shaped base has two dowels are inserted into it. You place your book on the base and the dowels support the back of it. The stand doesn't take up much visual space and allows your work to take center stage.

Image courtesy of The Bookstand

The book stands come in small (4.25" X 4.25") and large sizes (5.25" X 8.5") and are made out of pine and mahogany. These could easily be painted or stained to match your booth design.

They also make a fabulous two-tier bookstand (16" high, base dimensions are 4.625" x 8.25"). You can show two books in a small footprint and as an added bonus, you add height to your display.

Image courtesy of The Bookstand

The cost of these book stands is a bit higher than the manufactured ones, but the difference here is that you're getting something handmade.

  • Small pine book stand: $30.00 per dozen ($2.50 each)
  • Large pine book stand: $34.00 per half dozen ($5.67 each)
  • Small mahogany book stand: $45.00 per dozen ($3.75 each)
  • Large mahogany book stand: $50.00 per half dozen ($8.34 each)
  • Two-tier book stand: $32.00 per pair
Visit their website to view their complete range of products.

Many thanks to The Bookstand for granting permission for the use of their product photos in this post.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

SELL OUT! Tips for hand-selling stuff, tip 4

This series includes weekly tips on hand-selling homemade work without losing your soul or compromising your integrity. See the original introductory post here, tip #2 here, and tip #3 here.
Tip #4 You are not being a slimy sales person by being friendly and talking to people. You are doing your job.
Last week I established that the word “if” often opens people up and gives people permission to ask about one's work without feeling like they are under pressure. This week I’m adding that it also sort of gives an artist permission to start talking about his or her work (after a few seconds pause) because you’ve established that everything is at ease in your booth, that no one needs to feel pressure (yes, all because of the word “if”).
So, after the niceties and a bit of a pause, if the customer doesn't ask any questions, or engage, (and provided they aren't acting turned off or put-upon -- which they rarely do) that’s when I usually say something like, “I make all these journals and photo albums myself. I also make a lot of the paper for the covers.” (Perhaps I pause again here, if the customer seems shy or hesitant) “Feel free to open any of the books, the pages inside are often pretty colorful. I like to do that because I think it’s more fun to write on colorful paper.”
What you say depends on your work, but yes, this is when it’s time to give a bit of a pitch, without being in someone’s face, keeping things informal, and without diving in before you are sincere with those introductory niceties.
When I engage someone at a craft show, I’m doing my job as a sales-person. After I got the hang of it, I found it to be lots of fun. My customers have liked it too and I’ve found they are more open to my work more because of it. The thing is, you are giving someone what they came for at a craft show by engaging with them – personal interaction with an artist. You are showing them your art and what's awesome about it. You are there to engage with people, you aren’t being a creep by doing so. You are doing your job.
So after you've put people at ease (always sincerely) don't be afraid to talk about your work. That's what people have come to a show for.  Hopefully it's what you've come to a show for too.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Hang Tags Follow-up #4

You can create hang tags on your home computer by setting up a template in Microsoft Word. If you create the layout precisely, you should be able to print them out double-sided.

I use folded hang tags that are designed to be printed out on 8.5” x 11” sheets of card stock. You can see them in the image at right.

The outside cover of the tags is the same, no matter what the book is. I tried to keep the information general enough that it could be used for all of my books - they include my name and business name on the front, and a general blurb about my business on the back.

I customize the inside of my tags to include information specific to the book I'm selling. Usually this information includes types of materials used, relevant symbolism, color meanings, where a material is made, and/or eco-friendly details.

In the past, I hand-fed card stock through my printer and then hand-stamped my logo on the front cover of my tags. This took forever.

I decided that my time was better spent on things other than my marketing materials. I found this to be especially true when I was gearing up for a craft show – I'd much rather be producing inventory.

In addition, I worked on branding my business – I revamped my logo and decided on a specific shade of blue (I have a Pantone color!). I had business cards and letterhead printed professionally, so I decided to upgrade my hang tags to keep my branding consistent.

I sent my template to my graphic designer so she could get the layout right - it wasn't that different from my first design, so the design cost was minimal. We had to tweak it a few times to get the positioning right. Once the layout was set, I sent it to my printer and had them print up 200 sheets – that's 2,000 tags. I'm set for a lifetime.

It was worth the investment to get the tags professionally designed and printed. Sometimes you’re better off spending money instead of time. Now all I have to do is run the preprinted sheets through my computer to customize the inside of the hang tags – no more stamping!

Here's a link to the template I designed for my hang tags (Note: This is a MS Word document). You get 10 tags per sheet with a finished size of 2” (h) x 2.125” (w) when folded. You can customize the details as you wish. Once the tags are printed, here's how you cut the sheets:
  1. 4.25” vertical cut down the middle of the sheet, cutting it in 1/2 lengthwise.
  2. Cut 2.75” up from the bottom.
  3. Take the tag you just cut (2.75” high) and trim 0.75” off of the bottom.
  4. Cut 2” up from the bottom for the remaining 4 tags on the strip.
  5. Repeat this process for the second strip of tags.
I use a teeny hole punch for the hole in the upper left-hand corner. The hole can accommodate waxed linen thread and embroidery thread - it's a nice size.

I've found that stringing hang tags is a good activity for when you have slow times in your booth. It's easy (a.k.a. mindless) enough to do while keeping an eye out for customers and it's easy to quickly respond to customer questions. Artist consultant Bruce Baker says that while you're in your booth, you should keep busy doing nothing – this is the perfect activity for doing just that.

If you have any questions about my template, please let me know. I could try doing a video demo, if that would help. If you have a template that you use and you're willing to share it, send it to me and I'll include it in a follow-up post next week. Be sure to include your name and a link to your Etsy shop.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

SELL OUT! Tips for hand-selling stuff, tip 3

This series includes weekly tips on hand-selling homemade work without losing your soul or compromising your integrity. See the original introductory post here, and tip #2 here.
TIP #3: Use the word “If,” to help you break the ice with customers.
To sell your work at a craft show, you must learn to talk to people. Buyers of craft like things with a personal touch. They want to know the story behind the art they are looking at. That’s one of the best things about craft shows, after all – you get to talk to artists. So artists need to learn how to engage people, which is not always an easy task for people used to hiding out in their studio making their work.
So after I've said hi when someone comes into my booth, and waited a few seconds, I try saying something like, “If I can answer any questions about my work, just let me know.”
It's an invitation and often people will take it. A conversation often naturally flows.
Before we move on though, please note the difference between the above ice-breaker and the more familiar, "Can I help you?" or "Can I answer any questions for you?" where the answers will usually be, “No thanks, just looking,” at which point a shopper will most likely leave rather soon. Why? because they feel cornered.
When a sales-person says, "IF I can answer any questions," it changes everything. Like I said, it's an invitation, not a requirement. Everyone is put at ease. When I use the IF line at a craft show, I am letting someone know I’m available, but I’m not aggressive.
Then that person knows that it’s fine to have a look around my shop a bit. They don’t have to make a decision fast, or if they engage me it doesn’t mean they have to buy. They don't have to ask questions but they can. The control is in their hands. All because of the word “if.”
Usually the response is, "Thanks." Or "I will, thanks."
But as a bonus, I’ve often found that a nice conversation flows right from there. That word “if” opens people up and lets them ask me questions about my work. But it also allows me to take the next step if the customer doesn’t. So what is that? How do I keep things at ease and move on to talking about my work with people?  Check back next week for tip #4.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Selling Your Handmade Books: The Checklist: Accounts

We're adding to the checklist today. If you've been selling online already, you might still find that setting up some of these checklist items might be worth doing!

Once you have decided what your shop name will be, the products you will sell, and what level you'd like to work at, you are ready to get set up to sell!

There are four accounts that you need to set up for your small online business. Here are numbers 4-7 for the big checklist.

#4- Email: You may have a personal email that you've been using for years. If you are working at hobby level, this might be all you need to keep things together in one place. However, if you decide to go part time or full time with this business venture, I suggest getting a separate email account. This will help you keep the business separate from your personal emails. If you want to just keep your personal, I suggest setting up three folders in your personal account so you can keep all the Etsy info separate. The three folders I suggest starting with are: Etsy Invoices, Etsy information and Etsy emails. Etsy sends out emails everyday that you can opt into. One is Etsy Success, another is Etsy finds. If you want to learn a lot about the handmade business online, I suggest signing up for Etsy Success emails. Etsy Finds is an email sent out to buyers and puts Etsy's products out there to bring in potential buyers. It's way fun to look at these emails and way exciting to see one of your products in them! They have other subscriptions too that you can sign up for by clicking here.

#5- Bank Account: I set up a separate checking account for my business. It's just a separate free checking account through a local bank. This helps me keep the finances separate. If you're at hobby level and plan on staying there, you might be ok just using your personal account if you have one set up. However, it is super nice at tax time to have everything separate. If you have a debit/credit card associated with the new checking account, you can use that for all supply purchases and quickly see, on your monthly banking statement, how much money has gone into your various business expenses.

#6- PayPal Account: Etsy currently uses PayPal as their best option for purchasing items from Etsy. I know they would like to set up a monetary system with checkout right inside of Etsy and it's in the works, but it will be a very big move for Etsy, and therefore will take a lot of time in setting up. There are other options to use but most of Etsy users will opt for PayPal and it's best to accommodate your customers as much as possible in this way by setting up the payments to come through PayPal. So for now, you need to set up a PayPal account. There are three types of PayPal accounts: personal, premiere and business. For selling online, we only need the premiere account. Sign up by clicking here. You'll need to connect this account to your bank account; the sign in process takes you step-by-step through the process.

#7- Etsy Account: Your Etsy seller account is the final account to sign up with because you'll need the email, credit/debit from your bank account and your PayPal account to sign up for an Etsy seller account. These things can be changed later through Etsy in your account settings. It's always nice to just enter these things in once though. Some of my students had a hard time finding where to start their shop. There's a "Sell" button on the top of Etsy's pages, you can click on that and it takes you to the Seller's page. Once there you'll need to look on the right side of the page first for a blue sign up button and then a green Start Selling button. If you ever get stuck in this, click on the Sell button and look to the right side of the page.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Hang Tags Follow-up #3

Beth from Roundtheworldin80pgs asked the following question after my last post about hang tags:
I loved the BEST blog posts on the book hang tags for sales but I don’t understand how they are attached to the book, perhaps I just missed that part. Could anyone explain?
I'm glad she asked! I have some images that should help to clear that up.

Here is an image of one of my photo albums with a hang tag on it:

Here's a close up of how the tag is attached. I create a loop around the ribbon and pull the tag through. I like looping tags this way because they're easy to remove if needed.

Here's one of my journals that's bound over leather straps:

Looking closer, you can see that I looped the tag over the strap. There's a spot on the binding that isn't attached to the covers, so I had space for the tag.

Here's how it looks on the inside of the book:

Lastly, here's one of my coptic journals:

There really isn't any good spot for attaching a tag directly to the book. In cases like this, I find that bookmarks work well. I just attach the hang tag to a strip of paper and slip the bookmark in between some pages.

In try to keep the basic form of my hang tags the same so that they're easy to produce. If needed, I can make modifications depending on the type of book.

I hope these pictures were helpful in understanding ways in which I attach hang tags to my work. If you have additional questions, please leave a comment and I'll do my best to clarify things for you.

If you attach your hang tags in other ways, I'd love to see some pictures! Send me an Email with photos and I'll include them in a follow-up post next week. Be sure to include your name and a link to your Etsy shop.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

SELL OUT! Tips for hand-selling stuff, tip 2

This series includes weekly tips on hand-selling homemade work without losing your soul or compromising your integrity. See the original introductory post here.

TIP #2: Always, always, always (you must!) smile and say hi when someone enters your booth or your selling space.

You simply MUST do this or you aren’t even trying.

This is the simplest and most effective thing you can do to be a good craft seller. It's that simple. Just "hi" with a smile. It immediately lets people know you are friendly and available to help if needed.

Yet I mention it because I can almost guarantee that this one tiny little no-brainer of an action will already give you a huge advantage over other booths at a craft show. Believe it or not, few craft sellers take their sales jobs seriously enough to even do this much. I'm not exaggerating. I've walked around many a craft show and noticed that it really is the rare booth where the seller doesn't clam up the second anyone walks in to check out their work. All a person has to do is say hi, and surprise! People are set at ease and might stick around to shop instead of rush out of your booth because they are afraid they interrupted you or made you feel awkward. So take note. If you do nothing else to be a good seller, just smile at people and say hi. Take a deep breath and set yourself at ease too.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Selling Your Handmade Books: The Checklist

I recently taught a local class on how to sell handmade items on It was requested by many wonderful crafters in my area, so I left my bookbinding tools at home and went to work with this wonderful group. The goal of the class was to have them set up their business by the end of the six week class. I created a check list for starting and operating a small business. The checklist is basically a list of questions to ask your self, or things to do to set your business in a path for success. For the next several weeks, you'll receive some of the tips I shared in that class.

Check list numbers 1-3

1- What are you going to create to sell to others? 

This encourages other questions such as, would you like to create one-of-a-kinds, one item in a variety of colors? Or would you like to create several types of things: books, jewelry, aprons, furniture? Write down what you want to make to sell, not just everything you can create. Be specific with colors, sizes, and the materials you want to use. Be original! Don't go on etsy and browse and say "I'll make what they're making." Find something that shows others a bit of you. Find your niche and create your own! For example: I know that when I see this book below, it comes from Renate of as she's know for her felt soft cover books in which she hand draws fun designs, one design being this famous 
swirled tree.

And I know if I see one of these longstitch books below with a fabulous quote in the front, it's from Beverly of as she's known for the quotes on the first page of her books.

Making books is great, but try and find your own style and niche.

2- What level do you want to work at? 

Pick the level you want to open up shot at and the level you might consider moving up-to, or down-to some day. This is important as it sets your mind and goals in the right direction for your business. I wrote a post on this over a year ago which can be read by clicking here but the levels are listed below.

Hobby Level - You love making books and want to continue but materials can sometimes be pricey. At the hobby level, you really just want to make back enough money to cover costs and help pay for future materials for more books. All your money goes directly back into the books and your creative ventures.

Side Income Level - Since you're in need of a bit of extra income and you really don't want to sacrifice making books to get a second job, you've turned to selling your handmade books in hopes that you can do what you love and still contribute money to the monthly cash inflow.

Full Time Level - You love making books and want to make it your full time job. Part of your sales income will go back to materials for books, with most of the income going toward your spending budget to pay off bills and living costs.

3- Pick a shop name. 

For most of you reading this post, you may already have a shop name. I encourage you to leave a comment about your shop name and why you picked it. If you had to choose again, would you pick the same name? 

For those who don't have a shop name yet, this may be the hardest thing you have to do on the checklist. Here are some tips to picking a name: Keep it simple, keep it short and keep it relevant. When I started out a few years ago on Etsy, I wasn't sure what I wanted to sell. I thought I'd just add things here and there to my shop and see what took off. The first item we sold on there: two dozen cinnamon rolls.

Daniel made them. They look scrumptious don't they? We quickly learned that cinnamon rolls were NOT what we wanted to sell after trying to figure out the timing to ship and the packaging. Good thing I didn't call the shop "Cinnamon Sweets" which was on my list of potential shop names. I would be selling handmade journals and photo albums under that name!

I chose a shop name in which I could add anything I wanted to my shop: Karleigh Jae. However, my name is spelled in a complicated way. Yes, compliments to my mom for a pretty spelling but it's not the best for an online business.  I have to spell my website out for anyone who asks and for my customers, they have the hard time of telling friends, when they get a compliment on their new journal, "I bought it off etsy, her name is Karleigh Jae but I forget how it's spelled." Word of mouth is the best advertising for anyone, so make sure your shop name is easy to pass around as not everyone will have a business card on hand! 

Also remember to keep it simple. Apple. Gap. Kraft. Nike. These are brand names that kept it simple and they are therefor easy to remember. I had a student who wanted to use something like "Rose Maria's handmade treasured gifts". Think about your customers who want to come directly to your shop. They have to type that long name in! It's also easily forgettable. However, think Calvin Klein. Wouldn't it be weird if it were: "Calvin Klein's Fashionable Clothes and Accessories For Men"? Let's see them fit that on the clothing tag!

I suggested that she shorten her shop name to Rose Maria. I had all the students try and come up with they way they would spell that name and they all spelled it the same way, compared to my name of Karleigh Jae (everyone always starts it with "C" and let's not even discuss the "eigh" part). Ask friends for shop name ideas if you are having a hard time coming up with a name and remember to keep it simple, short and relevant.

One more note about my shop name. I picked my own name because it was just something I was trying out and I didn't know what I wanted to sell. Difficult spelling put aside, I still wouldn't have picked it. Currently, my etsy shop is working on the full time level and my husband, Daniel actually puts in more time with it than I do (he even made the first thing that sold, remember the cinnamon rolls?) But, the shop is still in my name. So, I wish I had picked a name which allowed everyone to know right off that it's not just a one woman business but a husband and wife team. If I had picked the hobby level and stayed there, my name would be ok. For a business that I planned on growing, I should have thought on my name a bit more.

The checklist is super long so keep up with my Tuesday posts here on the BEST blog to grow your business!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Bound by Nature Exhibition

There is a fabulous exhibition of artist's books currently on display in my city of Winnipeg. Bound by Nature is a group exhibition inspired by nature, landscape and books, curated by artist Deborah Danelley. 

I thought I would share with you here just a few of the varied and interesting book structures used by some of the artists.

Wildflowers by Deborah Danelley and Carol Leach. Imagine a room filled with origami fold books! The pages for these books were recycled from garden, nature and landscape books and catalogues. To get an idea of scale, look at the traditional books used as part of the display.

Oeuf Bibiotheque/The Egg Library by Erwin Huebner. Each miniature booklet contains developmental information and DNA genetic codes related to cell biology. (Yes it is a real egg shell).

Bird Haiku by Lorraine Douglas, a flag book with stencil and collograph prints.

as often as I look....I am able to see by Wendy Cooper-Parkinson, woodwork by Derek Houghton. The covers.

as often as I look....I am able to see by Wendy Cooper-Parkinson, woodwork by Derek Houghton. The pages.

The exhibition will continue on display at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery in Winnipeg until June 18. If you can't make it here for the show ( ;-) ) I have a few more images posted on my blog here.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Blog Interview: SweetBuddha

Welcome again to the BEST interview series! Today I want to introduce you to Diana Gonzalez, a.k.a. "The Craftaholic".

Hi Diana. Welcome to the team! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in Brooklyn, baby! Being a stay at home mother and an artist, I strive to inspire others to think differently about their life, and about what they create and call art.

Explain your name: Is there a story behind your Etsy-Name?
Sweet Buddha? Well, sort of. I follow Buddha's teachings, and I wanted the name "Laughing Buddha" but it was taken. I kept playing around with the name on Etsy until I found one that wasn't taken. I wanted a name that reflected my spiritual path.

How and when did crafting and bookmaking come into your life?
I've always been an artist and a crafter, really. Bookmaking came into my life quite recently, out of necessity. About 3 years ago, I started hand binding my own books, because I wanted to recreate the beautiful books that are sold in chain bookstores. They were so pretty, but mass produced, and I wanted to make my own after hearing my husband say, "Diana those are easy to make, you can totally make that."

What is your formal training?
I'm self-taught and work as a teaching artist. As of this coming August, I will have been teaching workshops for about four years. I run an art group thru meetup, where I host and teach art workshops of all kinds, such as jewelry making, block printing, and bookbinding. Its focus is on interdisciplinary arts, but we do a bit of everything creatively. I also have fun art swaps and social get-togethers with my group. That's my "real" job, on top of being a mother and wife.

What do you make and sell? Is there someone who helps you with the shop? What materials do you use and what techniques are your favorites?
I love to make books to sell. I usually make small batches of them, mostly because I get bored easily. I actually enjoy making all sorts of things. My husband and I designed a set of clear polymer rubber stamps and we have them for sale in our shop along with other items. I most often sell paper goods. In the future, I will be selling some of my photo transfer jewelry through my website. I love re-using and I love being eco-friendly with art and design. Most of the items in my shop are made from recycled materials. My books are made from old cardboard boxes, recycled paper, and old gift wrapping paper.

Do you have a favorite book about books?
My favorite book artist is Esther K. Smith. She works with her husband and they published a book called “How to Make Books”. I love her style and I really love book making. Her book is an awesome tool for the bored book artist who wants to create new items for her shop, or just wants to be amused creatively.

What do you call yourself: Book Artist, Book Maker, Book Binder - or something else?
I call myself an artist because that's what I feel that I am. I think labels are tacky, but if you want a label, it's best if you label yourself based on what YOU think yourself to be.

Is there a particular type of project that brings you the most joy?
As corny as it sounds, I love making hand bound scrapbooks and "wish books". Scrapbooks are fun - I like making them, as much as I don't broadcast it, LOL. I like making wish books - these are similar to scrapbooks, but more artistic and contain the images and things that personify what you want in life, what your "wishes" are.

Do you have a crafting hero/role model? Where is the source of your inspiration?
I don't really have a "craft" hero. My source of inspiration is fine art. My favorite artist is Jean-Michel Basquiat, I consider him to be my hero. His art truly changed my life and how I view art. He lived and breathed art. He made art on anything and everything, which I find inspiring. I love that. For me, necessity is the mother of invention. I love to create things that I need, like journals, sketchbooks and jewelry.

Do you have special plans for your crafting and your shop for the future?
I do have new ideas for the shop. I have some new vintage items that I plan on incorporating in book making this year. Also, stay tuned for more art books and kits.

Thanks Diana! It was great getting to know you!

If you'd like to see Diana's work, check out her Etsy Shop. You can also learn more about her on her website, blog, and Facebook fan page.

Friday, 3 June 2011

2011 Spring Swap: LinenLaidFelt

Several months ago my husband picked up a 1966 Britannica Wold Atlas for free on a trip to Baltimore. There's a place called Book Thing of Baltimore that gives away used books. But there's one catch: you can only take 150,000 free books per day, per person.

The atlas was packed with outdated, quirky data colorfully displayed on dozens of political and topographical maps from around the world. I decided to repurpose the pages of the atlas into a series of sculptural books featuring the vibrant map imagery. The books unfold in a malleable array of pages to reveal a random assortment of maps and graphics. When closed, the folds return to an orderly stack. --Katie of LinenLaidFelt

More photos of these vintage map books and Katie's other creations can be viewed in her shop here. (I apologize for missing Katie's swap book in the first round! She sent it to me by the deadline but it got lost in my inbox. Sorry, Katie!)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

SELL OUT! Tips for hand-selling stuff, tip 1

Now that Memorial Day weekend has officially ushered in the summer craft show season, let’s talk sales.

Usually craft sellers aren’t naturally into the whole sales-person role; we are artists, not salespeople. But if you’ve ever done a craft show or are thinking about participating in a craft show, you know that sometimes you have to put on the sales-person hat. So, how? What’s the best way to go about this task?

For the next 9 weeks, I’ll be posting weekly tips on being a better sales-person in a series of posts entitled “SELL OUT!” It’s a series on hand-selling homemade work without losing your soul or compromising your integrity. The focus here will be on the actual act of selling.

This series was originally posted on my own blog, starting a few months ago. Laura, of Prairie Pheasant, asked if I'd be willing to re-post the series on the BEST blog for fellow book artists. I'm happy to do so; I hope others find it useful. I’ve tweaked a few things to be more specific for this blog and I’ll be putting up a new post on Wednesdays for the next 9 weeks or so.

I based this series on what I learned from years working craft shows myself, as a vendor, as well as what I learned working as a salesperson at a small and highly successful handcrafted pottery retail store for many years. Also, please know that I didn't start out as being good at hand selling stuff, but I’m happy to say that I did become good at it. It was something I was kind of proud of when I was regularly doing shows (I took an extended break from shows when I became a mom). It felt like a bit of magic every time I engaged with a customer. I felt like sales I made were most often of the win-win variety, which is the best sort. And that is a good good feeling that I want other crafty people to share.

Most of the tips will be aimed towards selling at craft shows, but a lot of the principles of hand selling could easily crossover to other sales venues too. All types of hand selling are not the same, but many principles are. The idea is learning how to be engaging and helpful when you are in a position of selling things to people. To be engaging but not annoying, pushy or slimy. Mostly it’s about being true to your best self and your product.

I also want to acknowledge Bruce Baker, a jeweler who I bought a cassette tape about “being a dynamic craft-seller” from a decade ago. I listened to that tape several times in the car on my way to some of my earliest craft shows, and even though it’s been nearly a decade since I listened to that tape, as I read over my tips I see many echoes of what I remember learning from him present in what I have to share. I owe Bruce a great deal of gratitude; if there is or was a Bruce Baker school of thought on sales, I’d be in it. I’d like others to know that and look up Bruce’s products if they find this series helpful.

SO onto TIP 1:

1. To sell stuff, you actually need to do something. It is an active job.

The reason non sales-people often have an impression of a sales job as being one where you have to be annoying, pushy or slimy is because people bad at sales come across this way. But this image is missing a major part of the picture. If you are in a position of being a sales person of sorts, you should actually be trying to sell something. If you just sit aside or ignore the role or don't do anything active, you are also being a bad salesperson. 

The annoying, pushy or slimy sales person is, in fact, at least trying to do their job. They just aren't doing it well. The inattentive salesperson who hides in a corner and reads a book when they could be engaging with potential buyers isn't even trying to do their job. They are running away from it. Creative people who are thrust into the role of selling stuff (I.E. newbie vendors at craft shows) often end up being the types who don't even try to sell, lest they do it poorly.

So consider this a shake-up. I am grabbing anyone out there who is guilty of hiding in the corner when they should be engaging with potential customers and I am shaking you awake. You need to figure out how to better do your job.

So what the heck do you do with yourself when someone walks into your craft booth? How do you go about “doing something” or being "active" as the tip suggests? And by doing something, I mean without becoming annoying, pushy or slimy?

For the answer check back next Wednesday, when I’ll offer tip #2.